India with The Namesake

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“You are still young, free. Do yourself a favor. Before it’s too late, without thinking too much about it first, pack a pillow and a blanket and see as much of the world as you can. You will not regret it. One day it will be too late.”–Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake

  • Here’s what happens:
    • This is the story of artsy, first-generation American Gogol Ganguli and his path to understanding the meaning of his name, the bonds of family, and his connections to his own heritage.
  • It’s good because:
    • I’ve read many books about immigrant families’ journeys to the U.S. with this challenge, and it’s fascinating to see how each character remains unique, yet a few common threads connect them as they work to adapt to their new environment while still preserving aspects of their homeland–and struggling to find the happy in-between of these two ambitions. Lahiri provides a beautiful snapshot of maturity as Gogol flounders in love, work, and finding himself.
  • Read if:
    • You’re looking for a quick, heartfelt read that pushes you to understand life from someone else’s perspective. Gogol’s exasperation with his parents often pushed me to examine how my parents view things. Though not immigrants, we come to blows on a variety of issues, especially as we both get older, and it’s important to step back and cherish them, even when I feel like they came from a different planet. This book is a refreshing reminder of the importance of family.

Up next: Ukraine with Jonathan Safron-Foer’s Everything is Illuminated!

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